Monday, 26 October 2020
Mkaa Endelevu in Tanzania obtains East Africa’s first FSC certificate for Briquetted Charcoal.
Operating in the Iringa Region in the Southern highlands of Tanzania, Tractors Ltd, locally known as Mkaa Endelevu is the leading producer of sustainable and organic charcoal briquettes and other bio-waste products which include bio-char, wood vinegar, and the wood preservative – wood tar.
The company utilizes pine and eucalyptus sawdust, produced from FSC certified commercial forests in Mafinga district and other responsibly managed wood sources in Tanzania.
The FSC certified charcoal briquettes, provide both an affordable and ecologically acceptable wood-based product to clients and the certification provides an assurance that the materials used to manufacture the charcoal originate from responsibly managed forests in Tanzania. It also provides one of the solutions to reduce the rampant rate of deforestation in the country since it uses waste or residues from wood processing facilities.
Like in many developing countries in Africa, over 90% of Tanzania’s population is heavily reliant on charcoal and firewood as their main source of cooking fuels. This dependency has seen vast areas of natural forest decimated. Hardwood trees, some older than 50 years, are being cut down, turned into charcoal illegally, and sold at a cheap price to black-market trading syndicates in the major cities of the country. Because of this phenomenon, Africa has experienced deforestation levels that are globally worrying and as a result, requires mitigation measures associated with responsible forest management. This is where FSC with its globally trusted standard has made its contribution to sustainable forest management.
As Tanzania’s population continues to increase and urbanization grows, dependency on forests will also increase requiring more efficient and responsible methods of fuel production, such as those applied by Mkaa Endelevu that has adopted FSC’s certification standard and has been awarded a certificate as an indicator of its compliance. Notably. Mkaa Endelevu’s conversion rate is approximately 1-ton of sawdust waste to 350-400kg of briquetted charcoal, which means that-for every 400kg of Mkaa Endelevu charcoal used, 8 to 10 mature trees are saved, versus the traditional methods with a conversion rate of 1-ton of solid wood (approximately 4 to 5 mature trees) producing a mere 200kg of traditional charcoal; basically a 5 to 1 ratio of solid wood to charcoal.
In line with FSC’s certification policies and procedures, the certificate was issued based on the assessment and recommendation of an independent certification body (a CB). In this case, the certification was issued by Soil Association Ltd, a UK based accredited certification body. In effect, Mkaa Endelevu’s FSC certificate adds to the existing certificates in Chain of Custody and also Forest Management in Tanzania, bringing the total number to seven (i.e 4 Chain of Custody and 3 Forest Management certificates). Those seven companies are using the FSC system to spearhead responsible forest management, production and trade in responsibly sourced wood and wood-based products in Tanzania. They complement the positive steps which the Government is already taking towards curbing deforestation and improving its responsible forest management. Given the risks associated with charcoal production in much of Africa, the certification body will provide oversight on compliance with conditions of the certificate in order to comply with ‘supply chain integrity’ measures to ensure that illegally produced charcoal briquettes are not ‘bundled’ with certified material.
Tanzania has an approved FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS), which is an enabler for growth of FSC forest management certification, increasing supply of responsible wood products on the domestic and international markets. It is hoped that this will enable the wider uptake of certification by the private sector and community managed forest areas. This would be in line with, Tanzania’s strong Participatory Forest Management Framework, which allows communities to become legal managers and owners of community forests, thus, strengthening their participation in forest management, forest protection and benefit sharing.
Furthermore, Tanzania’s commitment is to restore 5.2 million hectares of degraded land and forests by 2030 under the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), which is a firm step towards protection of the country’s remaining natural forests.
FSC’s Eastern Africa Sub Region is keen to continue working with the Government of Tanzania, Development partners such as WWF-Tanzania, companies and businesses, communities and all interested stakeholders, to strengthen the use of FSC tools for responsible forest management of the country’s forests, trade and responsible sourcing of wood and wood related products.
With FSC certification, Mkaa Endelevu is keen to reinforce its engagement in fighting environmental degradation and lead Tanzania into a sustainable future.